I knew exactly one person when I moved to New York City in 2012. It was the single most terrifying and simultaneously liberating thing I’ve ever done… And hands down, the most rewarding experience of my life to date! When I moved back to Chicago in the summer of 2015, I luckily had a big network of college friends and friends-of-friends to greet me with open arms. But it’s kind of crazy how much can change in a few short years! This past fall, I was wanting to cultivate a few more meaningful, adult friendships and found myself using the same tips that I relied on a few years ago when I was starting from scratch in NYC.
No matter if you’re in a brand new city or just wanting to expand your network in the same place you’ve always lived, these tips for making friends as an adult can be super helpful!
Also worth noting… Sometimes changes in lifestyles can bring about changes in circles, too! It doesn’t just have to be geographical moves. Maybe you want to go out less and mainly hang out with crazy partiers… Maybe you’re the only one married and pregnant out of your college crew… Maybe you’re the last single girl in your group of lady friends… You get the idea! It’s not uncommon to feel a little bit alone (which is different than lonely) even though you’re surrounded by lots of people.
- Be a yes person. Say yes to literally everything! When I was in NYC, there were so many times that I just wanted to stay at home and work on my blog (in my safe comfort zone in my little 80 sq ft bedroom), but I would force myself to hang out with my first friend, my roommate. She had interned in the city, had already lived there for two years after college, and worked in PR so she always had a calendar full of events and dinner plans and drinks with friends. She was so amazing at inviting me along to basically everything, but I’ve never liked feeling like a tagalong. As much fun as we would have going out together, I’ve always been so stubborn and I made it my mission that I was going to find my own friends, too. It was actually a similar situation when I moved back to Chicago, too! Hallie had lived in Chicago for six years before moving to-and-from NYC, so she had a huge network of friend groups that I slid right into when we moved back at the same time. While I’m absolutely still friends with everyone, I’ve been making a huge effort to create my own circle over the last six months while I haven’t been traveling as much.
- It’s nearly impossible to live in a high-rise in New York ($$$), but if you’re moving to a less-populated city, it might be worth it to splurge for the buildings that have lots of great common areas. When I moved back to Chicago, I lucked out and moved into a very young, social building… We have a pool, outdoor TVs and lounge areas, BBQ grills, etc. The building even hosts social events from time to time, organizes local shops/restaurants for residents in the lobby, and plans workout classes, too. To be honest, it almost feels like living in a dorm at times! But it’s a great way to meet people.
- The gym! Whether it’s the gym in your building or the gym you belong to, be social. Don’t walk in with your head down and headphones on… Dig deep for the courage to strike up a conversation with someone! I mean, don’t be a creep, but read the situation and if there’s a time to make small talk with someone, do it. No matter where you are, it’s honestly remarkable how many people you can meet when you’re being open! Standing in line… At a sporting event… At a coffee shop… On the bus or subway… In the locker room or waiting area… In the elevator… Put your damn phone down and be present! Scary, I know, but it’s amazing what can happen when you’re actually there and not zoned out on your phone.
- Hobbies – Just like “Quad Day” in college, finding people with similar interests doesn’t have to be that hard! It all starts with looking for people in the right places. If you’re not a big drinker, don’t go hang out at your local bar trying to find friends. You probably won’t find other non-drinkers there, you know? If you hate running, don’t join a running club to meet people. Figure out what your interests are and where you could potentially meet other people who love the same thing! If you love art or history or science or whatever it may be, maybe become a member at that local particular local museum and attend the events. Go to bar that reps your city or team. (There are a few Chicago bars in NYC and in Chicago, there’s a bar for just about every school. An “Iowa Bar,” an “Indiana Bar,” etc. Find a buddy and head there on game day! Hallie and I used to watch Blackhawks games at Triona’s to try to find some good midwestern boys. Didn’t quite work out in that way, but it was still fun.) If you’re a book worm, volunteer at the library. If you love animals, volunteer at the local animal shelter. Take a painting or pottery class, you get the idea. Just get out there! You won’t find like-minded people and new friends sitting at home.
- For me, this translated to blogging events. I was SO FUCKING FRIGHTENED to go to events by myself. Getting lost getting there, not knowing anyone, feeling like an idiot and looking like a lonor, not having anyone to talk to, standing in the corner like a moron… Believe you me, I ran circles in my head and would even talk myself out of going to events. But you know what? It’s never that bad. I’m not going to sugar coat it, sometimes it does suck. But the experience makes you stronger and gives you more confidence for next time! Kind of like dating, no? I’ve been on so many first dates in my life that they literally don’t even phase me anymore. Like, I don’t even have to have a glass of wine beforehand. (!!) With lots of first dates and work dinners under my belt, I’m fairly certain I could make conversation with a brick wall at this point. I would say practice makes perfect, but clearly that doesn’t apply for me in the dating world. 😂 BUT I will say… If you practice enough, you can gain the confidence to chill the f*ck out.
- Work is a great place to meet people… All of my first friends in NYC were made at my first job! I lucked out and hit the jackpot of fun, young ladies at that job… I still have so many close friends that I’ve kept in contact with from those days in 2012. One of the hardest parts about working for myself is not having an office full of people to make friends with, but instead, I rely on events to meet fellow bloggers doing similar things.
- Friends of friends of friends! Be vulnerable and ask so and so to make an introduction for you… What’s the worst they can say? “Oh, sorry, Ava doesn’t like meeting new people.” You don’t want to be friends with someone like that anyhow! And don’t forget: Pay it forward when you can, too. Whether it be a business connection, friend, date, etc., I make a genuine effort to try and connect the dots when I’m meeting people and introduce them to someone that could help them out!
A few friends and fellow bloggers have written similar pieces sharing their finding-new-friends stories… Check them out, too!
What are some of your tried-and-true tips for making friends as an adult? Would love to hear! Also, if you’ve seen any other great articles on the web, send them my way and I’ll add them to the list above.